Sunday 11 December 2016

Volunteers who helped save Kilmainham Gaol from ruins to be recognised in 1916 celebrations

Published 29/10/2015 | 02:30

President Eamon de Valera lays a wreath at Kilmainham Gaol to mark the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising in 1966
President Eamon de Valera lays a wreath at Kilmainham Gaol to mark the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising in 1966

A special appeal is being launched to track down volunteers who helped restore the then ruined Kilmainham Gaol 50 years ago.

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The prison will play a vital role in the commemoration of the 1916 Rising as most of the leaders of the rebellion were imprisoned and then executed there.

But in the decades that followed, the jail ceased to be used as a prison and it fell into disrepair.

The Kilmainham Gaol Restoration Society started to renovate the decaying building in 1960.

Hundreds of volunteers gave freely of their time and skills to ensure that the building was saved from ruin.

Kilmainham Gaol was formally opened as a museum in 1966 by then President Eamon de Valera on the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.

The building was handed over to the Office of Public Works in 1986, declared a national monument and gets about 330,000 visitors a year.

As part of the 1916 centenary, the Kilmainham Courthouse is being restored as a visitor centre.

However, the minister in charge of the OPW, Simon Harris, wants to acknowledge the work of the volunteers who helped to save Kilmainham Gaol from ruin over 50 years ago.

Mr Harris is linking up with the Kilmainham Gaol Board of Visitors.

"These people worked tirelessly for many years on an unpaid basis so that the gaol could be saved from total decay and it is our intention that their effort will be recognised publicly during 2016," Mr Harris said.

"A number of our old colleagues still visit the gaol and are proud to see what they achieved," said Damien Cassidy of the Kilmainham Gaol Board of Visitors.

Irish Independent

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